This weekend, AT&T announced plans to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, bringing its subscriber base to nearly 130 million up from about 95 million. Should the deal (which will take at least 12 months) go through, what does this mean for current T-Mobile and AT&T subscribers? First of all, nothing will change in the short term. Until the deal is approved by U.S. regulatory authorities, the two carriers will remain separate entities. If the merger is approved, customers will retain their current rates until their contract runs out. Here's how this merger could affect you in the long term.
T-Mobile customers will eventually see price increases on monthly plans. "Less competition always results in higher prices than you would have had otherwise," PCMag.com''s Sascha Segan says. "The combined carrier will normalize at AT&T's higher rates." As a result, you may also see higher prices from Sprint and Verizon.
Customer service for T-Mobile subscribers will undoubtably suffer. In the latest surveys from J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports, T-Mobile does quite well when it comes to customer service, though it falters on call quality. AT&T fares very poorly across the board - including customer service.
AT&T and T-Mobile customers will benefit from increased network coverage. Since both carriers use the same network technology, GSM, their individual networks can be combined with relative ease.
AT&T and T-Mobile customers will see faster data speeds. Currently both AT&T and T-Mobile are building out HSPA+ networks, which offer faster data speeds, though not as fast as LTE, which Verizon uses. AT&T plans to implement LTE this year - much sooner than T-Mobile will on its own. On the other hand, T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is larger and faster than AT&T's. Joining forces will be mutually beneficial.
T-Mobile's Android phones could become less open. AT&T currently locks down their Android phones so you can't download third-party apps. Every other carrier, including T-Mobile lets you download what you want. That could change for T-Mobile subscribers.
T-Mobile subscribers could get the iPhone. This depends on whether AT&T completely folds in T-Mobile or keeps the two businesses separate.
More information about AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile
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